With the baseball playoffs careening at warp speed toward the World Series (although Albert Pujols hit the "pause" button last night) and the most wildly entertaining Saturday of college football in recent memory, you might have missed it: I was featured in the "Scorecard" section of the Oct. 17 edition of Sports Illustrated. I am flattered the magazine's editors felt my recent foray into investment advice with TheStreet.com was worthy of an article. Undeniably, recognition provides a tremendous "feel good," but it also raises expectations to a higher level. So without further ado (I've saved that for further down in the piece), here are this week's picks.
Two for the Money
Wachovia ( WB) reported blowout results Monday, including a 32% year-over-year gain in earnings and a 19% increase in revenue to $6.7 billion. As reported by TheStreet.com, Wachovia revenue growth was fueled by strong performance in its consumer and corporate banking businesses : Service charges rose 11% to $555 million, while banking fees rose 23% to $385 million. In addition, investment banking fees rose 24% to $294 million. In addition, its CEO said there are no signs of credit deterioration on the horizon, and the company reported an incredibly low level of chargeoffs in its loan portfolio of one-tenth of 1 percent. That's how good these people are. Despite all that, the stock initially fell in reaction, trading as low as $47.28 intraday before recovering to close up 0.6% at $48.12. As did other traders, I saw that selloff as a gift to buy this great American banking franchise. The opportunity was all the more enticing given Wachovia's stock is trading near its 52-week low, sports a forward price-to-earnings ratio of 10.2, and offers a dividend yield of 4.3%. As the stock was selling off Monday I bought the January 40 calls for $7.90. Once again, you must use all of your weapons when playing for big dollars, and options give you the opportunity to leverage your bet. I am now in control of 1,000 shares of Wachovia until the third Friday in January for $7,900 -- as opposed to spending over $47,000 to buy the common stock.